Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Dr. Chris Barton

Abstract

Three small (< 1 ha) mountain wetlands located in eastern Kentucky, host populations of two rare orchids, the white fringeless orchid, Platanthera integrilabia, and the crested yellow orchid, Platanthera cristata. Recently, concern has arisen about the persistence of the orchids. To better understand these wetlands and determine if hydrology is affecting the orchid populations, a hydrologic characterization study was initiated in 2009. Each wetland was equipped with a well nest consisting of piezometers, tensiometers, and a shallow well with a data logging pressure transducer. Chemistry and stable isotopes analysis (deuterium and 18O) of groundwater and precipitation were analyzed, and soil, topographic and channel cross-section surveys were conducted. Hydrology data suggest the primary source of water is precipitation and the primary output is evapotranspiration. Between 10 and 30 cm below the soil surface soil and tensiometer data revealed the presence of a weak fragipan, which likely contributes to seasonal ponding at the site. Management recommendations include thinning and construction of debris dams to increase the hydroperiod, surface area, and total potential volume of the wetlands.

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